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Liveblogged! Seven Questions to Help You on the Path of Testing with Jean Paul Varwijk

  • 30/01/2013
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  • Posted by Laszlo

Below is a live blog by Mauri Edo which was written during Jean Paul Varwijk’s webinar – ‘Seven Questions to Help You on the Path of Testing’ from Wednesday, 30th January.

Jean-Paul’s webinar is part of our Best of EuroSTAR 2012 Webinar Series Part 2. Follow the link for more information about the rest of the webinars coming up this week.

View the webinar here in our webinar archive. You can also download a copy of Jean Paul’s slides here.

Jean-Paul Varwijk’s “Seven Questions to Help You on the Path of Testing” Webinar Review

The third webinar of the series named Best of EuroSTAR Conference 2012 webinar week (part II) has been presented by Jean-Paul Varwijk (also known as Arborosa amongst the testing community), summarising his “Seven questions to help you on the path of testing”.

These “seven questions” are in fact a test approach heuristic developed by Varwijk after experiencing that formal test approaches are sometimes more focused on other topics (processes, deliverables, management…) rather than testing itself, so it was easy to get lost in this path, especially regarding how the software development world has become a constant changing environment.

The presented heuristic starts with the most fundamental question we can ask ourselves when facing a new testing project: “Why do I want to test?” Jean-Paul challenged the audience to go beyond the “to find bugs” answer and realize that this can probably be just a part of the effort, even an outcome of it. The test effort can also help complying with internal and external standards and regulations but the final value of it becomes optimal when understood as a provider of information about the quality of the product tested to whom cares about the state of the quality. Of course, as seen in the image below, moving from “finding bugs” to “providing meaningful information that matters” requires an increasing effort but also provides an increasing value in return.effort - value_498x375

Next question on the line refers to “What will I test?” and starts from the well-known requirements but understood widely. The presenter pointed that requirements are not only documents to determine test cases from them; people’s interests, especially the interests of the ones concerned about the test effort, can help us obtain new “requirements” beyond formal documents, things that are interesting to analyse from a tester’s point of view and determine test ideas and test cases from them, getting close to the goal stated in the previous question, as we have located some people who care about the testing effort, let’s provide valuable information to them!

Once identified these wide requirements, Jean-Paul offered some resources to generate test ideas from them (like testing mnemonics, the testing heuristics cheatsheet by Hendrickson, Lyndsay and Emery, and other useful resources). He even confessed to use some key sentences usually heard in the development and testing processes as triggers for test ideas like “You Ain’t Gonna Need It” or “No user would do that“.

The next question refers to “what questions do I already have to conduct testing?” What things you can advance asking that might affect how will you conduct your testing? Is there a test ware tool available? Do you control test environments and test data? Will the key persons (developers, stakeholders…) involved in the project be available and when? All these questions are part of the “Jean-Paul’s test” that the presenter shared with the audience, having no right or wrong answer but whatever answer they have, it is important to consider it when planning and organising our testing effort for the project.

Similar to the previous one, the question “what do I already know?” refers to the sources of knowledge that are already available to us or even that we already have incorporated like the domain knowledge we are in, the tools and languages’ knowledge we are using, the development methodology… These already known things can affect our testing effort and help us refine our test ideas. We can also learn from previous or existing bugs to locate difficult or unstable functionalities, detect common errors and common solution patterns, and so on.

So far these questions are not meant to be asked sequentially, as shown in the image below.

questions cycle (3)_498x375

It is important to consider what information you need at what time, and ask again the same questions as long as they are needed and they provide useful information.

One of the most critical questions came next, “When have I achieved my goal?” Here, Jean-Paul reviewed some of the most common testing stopping heuristics like running out of time, testing mission revoked for several reasons, accomplishing the mission according to the stakeholders (enough information provided) or even to run out of interesting questions to ask, as if we couldn’t find new test ideas to follow (which can become a stopping point or a hint to change mind-sets by changing the test team or adding new members to it).

“What have I tested?” is another question we should ask ourselves before being asked externally and getting caught without a clear answer. We testers have to be able to tell what we have tested, how did we test it, what results came of those tests and what defects were registered, to avoid delivering a black-box result of the testing effort that might become suspicious. The consistency and exhaustiveness of the answer here links directly to the first question summary “provide meaningful information to those who care”, we have to convert this information into a meaningful one, verifiable and traceable, helping our customers take the best decision.

Two master tips by Jean-Paul regarding this matter:

1. Be able to tell your test story!

2. Get an elevator pitch on the status of your test effort and be ready to use it, anytime.

To end with the seven questions heuristic, “What if I don’t know how to go further?” suggested means to get external information in case of getting stuck during the testing effort or after it.

There are several sources to get some insights on how to go through like contacting the testing community, always ready to help, ask for help around you or even Google your problem… But be always ready to interpret the answers obtained and do what you think is right according to your context and not what you are told (not) to do.

Plenty of insights in this enjoyable webinar by Jean-Paul Varwijk!

Now there’s only one more webinar remaining and the Best of EuroSTAR Conference 2012 webinar week (part II) will be over, see you in the following webinar? I hope so!


mauri_edo1Mauri Edo is a self-made testing professional currently working as a QA Manager at Netquest, a firm specialised in on-line market research services, from Barcelona to the world. Always ready to discover new things, Mauri is a huge defender of continuous learning, knowledge sharing and testing conversations. You can find him on Twitter as @Mauri_Edo and blogging (Spanish) and at the Software Testing Club (English)

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